Opinions - Joye Ritchie Greene
C'mon Give Me a Hug
By Joye Ritchie-Greene
Mar 29, 2008 - 2:01:40 PM

In all my years of having manicures and pedicures, the most relaxing part of the experience is having someone massage my hands and feet or gently stroke the area nearing the end of the treatment.   So, I was hugely disappointed the other day when I felt plastic rubbing over my skin instead of the gentle touch of skin on skin.

During this self-indulgent treatment, I was distracted the entire time wondering when the manicurist would eventually release her hands from their prophylactic prison.   While my hands were in need of having cuticles removed, I didn’t see them as a health threat.   Be that as it may, I eventually settled into the experience and her expertise and professionalism made up for any emotional or psychological discomfort I felt at the time.

While I sat there, I couldn’t help thinking about how much we crave human touch and the positive effects of such contact.   Much documented research has proven how persons in hospitals who received human touch versus those who did not, lived longer or recovered more quickly.

An article on the WebMD Website cited a case where researchers saw proof on an MRI how human touch lessened physical pain.   “This latest research seems to indicate that neurons actually respond positively to human touch in anxiety-evoking situations. The researchers saw positive proof on an MRI of how dramatically human touch can even blunt physical pain and the anticipation of it.” (

We have this old wives’ tale in The Bahamas about spoiling a child when we hold him too much.   How absurd is that?   There is nothing more comforting to a child than to be wrapped in his mother’s arms and to snuggle up against her breast.   Why would I allow a child to cry if all I need to do is wrap him in my arms for a few minutes, and eventually he will lull off to sleep?

This was made so plain to me when I had the opportunity to meet my newest godchild two weeks ago.   He was not happy being his play pen, so I lifted him out of his mesh prison cell and cradled him in my arms.   In a very short while, he had positioned himself comfortably on my bosom and drifted off to sleep.

With all the violence in this country, perhaps we need to ask ourselves if we contributed on some level when we refused to cuddle or hug our child when he was crying in the crib.   All too often we have children who only feel the back side of their mother’s hand in a violent rage, and not the comfort of the palm of her hand as she cradles him.

As old as I am, there is no hug that can substitute that of my mother’s.   Whenever I cuddle into her warm embrace, I feel so safe and secure; it’s like I am a child once again.   Of course, if I did not have loving experiences as a child I don’t know if I would feel that same level of comfort or know how to share it with others.

And herein lays the dilemma we have today with so many of the angry people in our communities.    We can’t give what we don’t have.   So if we have no knowledge of love and affection; or if we don’t know anything about hugs and kisses from our love ones, how do we pass it on?

Unless we can learn how to love and make positive human connections from someone outside our family, many of us go throughout our lives craving something, but never understanding that it is that gentle human touch for which we crave.

Athletes seem to understand this concept of touch very well.   There is usually some kind of physical touch after a basketball player makes a basket or a footballer scores a goal.   They give hugs, high fives, or slaps on the bottom as a way to show their elation.   While people may make fun of some of the athletes’ antics, they understand the need for expressing their jubilation and the human touch is the best way to express such joy.

This week I challenge you to touch someone as a gesture of encouragement, goodwill or love.   If someone at work is not doing well emotionally or physically, a gentle touch on the shoulder followed by a few kind words will help carry that person through the day.   I guarantee you that your loving touch will be received with a smile of gratitude.

About the author: Joye Ritchie-Greene is an Educational Consultant, Writer and Martial Arts Instructor. She is the owner/operator of The Bahamas Martial Arts Academy; president of Time-Out Productions; and is also a columnist for the Freeport News. She has a B.A. in English and an M.S. in Human Resources, resides in Freeport, Grand Bahama with her husband and enjoys playing tennis. Joye can be reached at  

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